"Space Empires II is a game of galactic conquest where the goal is to build your empire to span the galaxy and eliminate all obstacles in your path. You do so by designing and building starships which travel the galaxy and extend your sphere of influence. As time progresses, your empire will expand by exploring solar systems and depositing colonies. You will encounter in your exploration other star-faring races and empires. Your empire is yours to lead as you see fit. You may choose to peacefully coexist, or conquer your enemies.
The backbone of any empire are the populations that comprise it. As your ships move out into the galaxy and explore its solar systems, you will take your populations out with you and form colonies on planets. The sizes of colonies are outpost, colony, and settlement, and each has a maximum population that it can support. This population in turn determines how much money the planet generates for the empire. The money that a planet generates is based on its population and the inherent value of the planet. As your empire colonizes more and more planets, the empire will have more money coming in to spend on purchases.
The workforce of an empire is its fleet of starships. The lifecycle of a starship is to be designed, purchased, built, and then maintained. Designing a starship is making a blueprint for the ship which specifies what size it is and what components it contains. Once a design for a starship has been created, the ship can then be purchased. An empire uses the money it collects from its colonies to spend on these starships. When purchasing the starship, you must decide where it will be built. Starships can only be built by space yards or around planets with settlements. Once you purchase a starship, it will be created on the next turn in the location you specify. When a starship is newly created, it is just a hulk in space. It needs to be constructed by your space yards. The more spaceyards you have present, the more components will be repaired each turn. Once a starship has a few engines built, you can then move it out into the galaxy. Starships require periodic upkeep and materials to be able to continue operating. Your empire provides these materials by paying a maintenance cost for each of your ships every turn.
Your empires current level of technical sophistication is represented by your Tech Level. An empires Tech Level dictates the ability that empire has to build ships and the components that go in them. As an empires Tech Level increases, it is able to build larger ships with more advanced weapons. Tech Levels can be purchased by your empire each turn for a sizable cost. Remember, a few very advanced ships can destroy 10 times as many less advanced ships.
Yours is not the only sentient race in the galaxy. Other star-faring races have also evolved and have decided to move out amongst the stars. Each game of Space Empires can have from 1 to 4 human players participating. In addition to the human players, there can be computer players as well. There are a maximum of 4 empires allowed in the game. Therefore, if you have 3 human players, you can only have 1 computer player. In addition to the the computer players, there are also neutral players that exist in the galaxy. All neutral players are computer controlled. Neutral races are the same as the 4 empires but they do not have a desire to conquer the galaxy. Neutral players will not move outside of their own solar system.
Space Empires II can be played by a mix of both human and computer players. If more than one human player is involved then the following
guidelines should be followed. Each player should take his turn alone, without any other player present to see the screen. Since each player has his own unique view of the galaxy, other players obtaining this information would have an unfair advantage. You can provide other players with information, but this should be done through messages in the game. The only exception to this rule is in combat. When combat occurs, all involved players should be present at the computer to give orders to their ships. When combat is concluded, which ever players turn it is should be left alone to finish his turn."